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The UW Oshkosh Office of International Education advises undergraduate degree-seeking students on issues related to and affected by student non-immigrant status in the U.S.

It is the individual student’s responsibility to know the laws that apply to their student visa AND to follow those laws.  Students are required by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to maintain “lawful status” at all times.

Your responsibilities as a student on a non-immigrant visa are to:

  • Enroll in a full course of study at the beginning of every session (excluding authorized break periods);
  • Consult with your Immigration Advisor if you feel you meet federal requirements for dropping below a full course of study;
  • Report address changes to your Immigration Advisor within 10 days of the change;
  • Report any change in sources of financial support to your Immigration Advisor;
  • Seek the approval of your Immigration Advisor/USCIS before engaging in employment or practical training 
  • Report any changes in program of study to your Immigration Advisor;
  • Report any change in academic status to your Immigration Advisor;
  • Notify your Immigration Advisor prior to traveling outside the United States;
  • Notify your Immigration Advisor upon applying for change of nonimmigrant status;
  • Notify your Immigration Advisor upon approval of an adjustment of status to an immigrant;
  • Consult with your Immigration Advisor to extend your program;
  • Notify your Immigration Advisor if you intend to transfer;
  • Notify your Immigration Advisor about changes in dependent status.
Information
Office of International Education Responsibilities

It is the Office of International Education’s responsibility to provide information on laws and regulations, to provide information on UW Oshkosh processes that help students remain “in lawful status”, and to advise students on these processes.

Advising takes place

  • Through written information on the Office of International Education web site;
  • Through written materials emailed to students prior to arrival in the U.S.;
  • Through an extensive, mandatory International Student Orientation prior to each semester;
  • Through periodic email announcements; and
  • Through individual advising, following a student’s attendance at orientation and after a student’s thorough review of written information.
Lawful Status

A student who is “in Lawful Status” is following all laws related to being in the U.S. on a student visa.

General Guidelines

To stay “in lawful status”, students with an F-1 student visa must:

  • Be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits each semester;
  • Attend the school that issued the I-20 you used to apply for your visa;
  • Meet all deadlines, including application deadlines and deadlines to depart the U.S.;
  • Work only when authorized;
  • Limit on-campus employment to twenty (20) hours per week when school is in session;
  • Report any change of address within 10 days.

Consequences of Being “Out of Status”

Students who do not maintain lawful status are said to be “out of status”. Consequences include:

  • being required to leave the U.S. “Out of Status” students who fail to leave the U.S. may be deported;
  • Potential denial of re-entry to the U.S.;
  • Potential inability to move from undergraduate to graduate status;
  • Potential denial of requests for practical training;
  • Potential denial of requests to change visa status;
  • Potential denial of all future visa applications.

The Office of International Education is required by federal law to report status in SEVIS.

Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)

SEVIS is a web-based system that allows schools, U.S. Embassies and consulates and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to exchange information on the visa status of international students for the duration of their stay as a student in the U.S.

Your SEVIS record includes information such as:

  • Biographical details, including your name, date of birth, gender, country of birth and current citizenship;
  • The first date on which you are expected to arrive at UW Oshkosh;
  • The first date of each semester that you will attend UW Oshkosh;
  • Your current address in your home country and in the U.S.;
  • The final date on which you attend classes at UW Oshkosh
    • in relation to your graduation or transfer out of UW Oshkosh, this is EITHER the final date of the 14-week semester or, if you take an interim class, the final date of the 17-week semester
    • in relation to a withdrawal or other early departure, this is the actual date on which you attended your last class
  • Authorized enrollment at fewer than 12 credit;
  • Data which indicates that you are not "in lawful status" (you are not following U.S. visa laws), for example:
    • Unauthorized enrollment at fewer than 12 credits;
    • Academic or disciplinary actions taken due to criminal conviction;
  • Other data generated by standard procedures such as program extensions, changes in level of study, and employment authorizations (CPT/OPT).
Provide Up-to-date Information to the OIE
Change of Address

You must submit your new address to the OIE within 10 days of moving.  You must ALSO change your address in TitanWeb. 

If you change your address in TitanWeb only, the Office of International Education will NOT be notified and your SEVIS record will NOT be updated.

Use the Office of International Education "Change of Address" form to report your new address.

Update your address in TitanWeb. (Do not complete the form linked here; instead, view instructions at the BOTTOM of the linked page.)

Change of Major

If you change your major, add a second major, or add a minor you must meet with an advisor in the Undergraduate Advising Resource Center AND, per federal regulations, you must also inform the Office of International Education so that your SEVIS record can be updated.

Submit the "Change of Major" form within 10 days of changing your major, adding a second major, or adding a minor.

Course Enrollment
Minimum Course Enrollment

Students on F-1 visas must be enrolled in a minimum number of credits each semester in accordance with federal regulations.

  • 14- or 17-week Semester: students must take a minimum of 12 credits during the 14-week semester OR 12 credits during the 17-week semester;
  • Summer I and Summer II sessions: no minimum;
  • January and Spring Interim: not required, provided the student has taken 12 credits over the 14-week semester.
Less than Minimum Course Enrollment

Students on F-1 visas may request to drop below required full-time enrollment ONLY in the following three circumstances.  

  • Academic Difficulties: students who find that their language skills are not adequate, that they are challenged by the U.S. approach to teaching and learning, or that other academic challenges prevent them from being able to successfully attend classes full time may apply for a “reduced credit load” for one semester only.
  • Medical Condition: students with a medical condition, documented by a U.S. healthcare provider, that prohibits them from attending classes full time may apply for a “reduced credit load” for one semester only.
  • Completion of a Course of Study: students who can meet graduation requirements (or otherwise complete their "program of study") by taking 11 or fewer credits IN THEIR FINAL SEMESTER ONLY may apply for a “reduced credit load”.

Requests must be made to the Office of International Education.  There is no guarantee that the request will be approved.  Per federal regulations, students may drop below the required full-time course load, with approval, for a maximum of one semester only.

A course load reduction is not possible under any other circumstances.

Length of Stay in the U.S.
Form I-94 and Length of Stay

When you enter and exit the U.S., border officials now record your entry and exit into an electronic system (formerly this was done on a paper form). This record is called Form I-94.

  • If you arrived in the U.S. BEFORE May 25, 2013 you received a PAPER form I-94. You should keep this in your passport; replacing this form can cost a lot of money!
  • If you arrived in the U.S. AFTER May 25, 2013, you received an "admission stamp" in your passport and an electronic form I-94. You can log in to an on-line system to see your Form I-94.

Form I-94 tells you how long you may stay in the U.S. You are required to leave the U.S. on or before the date that is either recorded on your I-94 or stamped in your passport. If these dates are not the same, you must notify the Office of International Education immediately.

It is your responsibility to review the form I-94 immediately after each entry into the U.S. to confirm accuracy.

Each time that you enter and exit the U.S., you generate a new form I-94. The most recent I-94 is also the only valid/unexpired I-94 that pertains to you.

Duration of Status
Your I-94 and/or passport should have a stamp that says "D/S" rather than a specific date. "D/S" means "Duration of Status". "Duration of Status" means that you may remain in the U.S. for as long as you are in "Lawful Status" (as long as you are meeting all of the conditions of your student visa).

Print or Find Your I-94 Number
Follow these instructions to print your I-94 card.

Visa Expiration Date
DO NOT use the U.S. Visa expiration date to determine your permitted length of stay in the U.S. Your visa gives you permission to apply to enter the U.S. at the U.S. border. If your visa expires, you may legally remain in the U.S. but, if you depart the U.S., you must apply for a new visa to re-enter the U.S.

Program End Date

Students with an F-1 student visa have a Form I-20 which states the final date by which they must graduate. This date is called the “Program End Date”.

A student who will not graduate by the Program End Date must apply for a “Program Extension” at least 30 days before the Program End Date.

Application is possible if the student has

  • Maintained lawful status for the duration of stay in the U.S. AND
  • The delay in completion is caused by compelling academic or medical reasons, such as change of major or research topics, unexpected research problems, or documented illnesses.

Complete the "Program Extension" request form and submit this to the Office of International Education.

Delays because of academic probation or suspension are not acceptable reasons for program extension.

A student who fails to graduate or complete his/her program by the Program End Date on the I-20 and who is declined a Program Extension is “out of status” if s/he does not depart the U.S. within 60 days of the Program End Date.
Short- and Long-term Visitors
Request a Dependent I-20

Current students who have an F-1 visa may request an I-20 to bring a spouse and/or children under 21 years old to the U.S. to live with them.  Use the "Request for a Dependent I-20" form.  The form will require that you attach each of the documents listed below. You must complete one form for each individual dependent; you may not include all dependents on one form.

  • a copy of the dependent's passport;
  • a copy of your marriage certificate (if requesting an I-20 for a spouse);
  • a copy of the birth certificate (if requesting an I-20 for a dependent under the age of 21).

After submitting your request, you will receive a "Declaration of Finances" form from the OIE.  This form will show the total funding you are required to have available to support both yourself and your dependent/s.

You must submit the new "Declaration of Finances" form and new financial documentation to the Office of International Education to complete your application for dependent I-20's.

The financial documentation must show at least the minimum required funding as listed on your new "Declaration of Finances" form.  Your documentation may include a recent bank statement, sponsor letter, and/or other financial guarantee.

Travel
Travel Outside the U.S.

Students with an F-1 student visa must have proper documentation with them when they travel.  Travel outside the U.S. may be for five months or less.

Review this website BEFORE you purchase tickets to travel.

You are REQUIRED to carry the following documents when you travel:

  • Form I-20, SIGNED ON PAGE 3 WITHIN 12 MONTHS OF YOUR DATE OF RETURN TO THE U.S.(within 90 days if traveling to Mexico or Canada or within 180 days if traveling while approved for Optional Practical Training);
  • Unexpired, original passport (generally must be valid at least six months past your planned date of return to the U.S.);
  • Unexpired U.S. visa, valid past the planned date of return to the U.S. AND with remaining allowable “entries”. In some cases, a U.S. visa may be issued for two, three, or multiple “entries” into the U.S. Once you have entered the U.S. the total number of times equal to your “entries”, you may no longer use that visa even if it is not expired.  There are a few exceptions to the visa policy;
  • Financial information showing proof of necessary funds to cover tuition and living expenses; AND
  • Your paper Form I-94 (only if your last entry into the U.S. was before May 2013).

Graduated students with an APPROVED or PENDING Application for OPT are REQUIRED to carry:

    • An unexpired Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or Form I-797C "Notice of Action" (a form indicating that your OPT Application is under review);
    • A copy of your employment letter, showing an employment offer AND an employment end date after your return date to the U.S. (no exceptions - you MUST have this);
    • NOTE: your I-20 will be expired (your program end date was your date of graduation).  Therefore, you MUST travel with the I-20 SIGNED ON PAGE 3 (to prove that you originally entered the U.S. to study) AND your EAD or "Notice of Action" (to prove that you are still “in lawful status”).

Travel before receiving both the original EAD and an employment letter is risky and could cause you to be unable to return to the U.S.  Read all details below in relation to travel and OPT before making your travel decisions.

You are RECOMMENDED to carry the following documents when you travel:

  • A copy of your electronic Form I-94 (if your last entry into the U.S. was after May 2013);
    • Print your Form I-94 from the internet and carry this with you. If border officials cannot find you in their system when you exit the U.S., present your printed Form I-94.
  • An unofficial copy of your UW Oshkosh transcripts showing enrollment in the semester after your return to the U.S. (or showing enrollment during the current semester if traveling during a mid-semester break);
  • For students who must apply for a new visa before returning to the U.S., carry financial documentation confirming your means of support;

Getting Your Form I-20 Signed for Travel

  • If your I-20 has not been signed within the 12 month period prior to your RETURN to the U.S., drop off BOTH your I-20 AND a copy from TitanWeb of your course enrollment for the semester after travel in the Office of International Education.
  • An Office of International Education staff member will sign your I-20.
  • Return to the Office of International Education to pick up your I-20.
  • NOTE: you do not need an appointment to have your I-20 signed; your I-20 will be ready for pick-up within a day or two, provided OIE staff are in the office and available. Plan ahead for travel and give staff at least one week to sign!

Traveling While an Optional Practical Training Application is Pending

"Pending" means that you have applied for OPT and your official, on-line SEVIS record indicates "pending" as the status of your OPT Application.

  • You may travel and re-enter the U.S., for the purpose of "searching for employment",  while your OPT Application is pending provided you have ALL of the required documents listed above.
  • If you travel outside the U.S. while your application is pending and your status changes to "approved" before you re-enter the U.S., you will be subject to rules for travelers in Approved OPT Status.
  • Because your status may change while you are outside of the U.S., DO NOT TRAVEL if your OPT Application is pending and you do not yet have an original Employment Letter.  See "re-entry" below for details.

Re-entry into the U.S. and Optional Practical Training

 "Approved" means that your official, on-line SEVIS record indicates "approved" as the status of your OPT Application.  "Approved" is not related to receipt (or not) of the original EAD. 

  • After applying for OPT, you may NOT re-enter the U.S. UNLESS you have a written employment offer.  If you depart the U.S. without a written offer, you may secure the offer while outside the U.S. and use the offer to return, provided your Employment Authorization Document is not expired.
  • If the status of your OPT Application is "approved", you must present the original EAD to border officials to re-enter the U.S.  It is not possible to guess the date on which the status of your OPT Application may change from "pending" to "approved".  Therefore, if your OPT Application is pending, and unless you have enough time to request that a friend or family member mail your EAD from the U.S. to you if this arrives while you are traveling, it is not advisable to travel while your application is pending.
  • You should not consider traveling outside the U.S. unless you have both an EAD and a written employment offer.

Third-country Visas

You may also need to apply for a visa to enter countries other than the U.S. Review the U.S.-based website of the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit as far in advance as possible. Reviewing the website hosted IN THE U.S. will ensure that you have access to requirements for U.S. F-1 student visa holders who apply for a third-country visa from the U.S.
Departure from UW Oshkosh
Transfer from UWO to Another School's Undergraduate Program

A student with an F-1 student visa may apply to transfer from one school to a different school. Transfer is possible if the student:

  • Was enrolled full time during the term immediately preceding transfer or the last term preceding a vacation;
  • Will be enrolled full time at the new school;
  • has maintained “lawful status”.

Apply to Transfer FROM UW Oshkosh

  • Complete the full application process for the school to which you wish to transfer.
  • Upon receipt of an official admission decision from the school to which you wish to transfer, complete that school’s “transfer” form (if they provide one). The school that you will transfer TO must advise on the transfer process.
  • Submit the “transfer” form to the Office of International Education and/or provide the date on which the UW Oshkosh Office of International Education should “release” you to your new school. On this date, the Office of International Education will transfer your SEVIS record to your new school. The new school will issue you a new I-20.
  • NOTE: from the date on which the new school issues your new I-20, all immigration advice must be given by your new school. The UW Oshkosh Office of International Education cannot advise on immigration after this date.
Transfer from Undergraduate Program to Graduate Program

An undergraduate student with an F-1 student visa may apply to transfer to a UW Oshkosh graduate program or to another graduate school in the U.S. Transfer is possible if the student:

  • Was enrolled full time during the term immediately preceding transfer or the last term preceding a vacation OR was authorized for OPT for the period prior to the transfer;
  • Will be enrolled full time at the new school;
  • Meets the financial requirements of the new school;
  • has maintained “lawful status”.

Apply to Transfer to a UW Oshkosh Graduate Program

  • Contact the UW Oshkosh Graduate Studies Office for advising on programs and on the application process.
  • Complete the full application process for the UW Oshkosh graduate program.
  • Notify the UW Oshkosh Office of International Education upon receipt of an official admission decision.
  • Your SEVIS record will be transferred from the UW Oshkosh Office of International Education to the UW Oshkosh Graduate Studies Office. Note that your record cannot be transferred until after your program end date.
  • The Graduate Studies Office will issue you a new I-20 after your SEVIS record has been transferred.

Apply to Transfer to a Graduate School Outside UW Oshkosh

  • Complete the full graduate school application process.
  • Upon receipt of an official admission decision, complete that school’s “transfer” form (if they have one). The school you have applied to must advise on the transfer process.
  • Submit the “transfer” form to the Office of International Education and/or provide the date on which the UW Oshkosh Office of International Education should “release” you to your new school. On this date, the Office of International Education will transfer your SEVIS record to your new school. The new school will issue you a new I-20.
  • NOTE: from the date on which the new school issues your new I-20, all immigration advice must be given by your new school. The UW Oshkosh Office of International Education cannot advise on immigration after this date.
Final Departure from the U.S.
Final U.S. Departure Date

In addition to the final date on which you may stay in your on- or off-campus housing, you must also plan for your departure from the U.S.

Students on an F-1 student visa whose program has ended may remain in the U.S. for a maximum of 60 days following the final date listed on the I-20.  The final date listed will be one of the following:

  • the final day of the 14-week semester; OR
  • the final day of the 17-week semester (only allowable if you are enrolled in a course during interim); OR
  • the final day of the summer session (only allowable if you are enrolled in a course during the summer session); OR 
  • the final day of OPT (only allowable if you are approved for OPT).

The default end date given to students at the beginning of their stay at UW Oshkosh is normally equal to the date at the end of a 17-week semester (including interim).  The OIE is required to change the end date on your I-20 in the following circumstances:

  • When a student is not enrolled in an interim course during the final semester at UW Oshkosh, OIE must change the end date on the I-20 so that it is the same as the last day of classes in the 14-week semester.
  • When a student will graduate or depart UW Oshkosh after a different term than originally indicated on the I-20, the OIE must change the end date on the I-20.  See "Graduation and Your I-20 Program End Date" (for information on graduating AFTER your originally-planned program end date) or "Optional Practical Training" for more information.
I am out of Lawful Status. What do I do?
What does "out of status" mean?

“Out of status” means that an F- visa holder has failed to follow one or more of the federal regulations that pertain to their visa.

Exit the U.S.

Generally, an F- visa holder who is “out of status” must exit the country immediately.  You may then apply for a new visa using an updated, valid I-20.

Reinstatement

An F- visa holder who is “out of status” may apply to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for “reinstatement”. If circumstances beyond the visa holder's control caused the visa holder to be “out of status”, DHS may consider these circumstances and may allow the visa holder to remain in the U.S. A  visa holder who receives approval to remain in the U.S. is then considered to once again be “maintaining lawful status”.

If the violation that caused the  visa holder to be "out of status" occurred 5 or more months prior to application for reinstatement, or if the  visa holder has worked without authorization, the DHS will not consider the request and the request will be declined.


Contact Us

Office of International Education
Dempsey Hall, Room 202
General: 
Phone: +1 (920) 424-0775
Fax: +1 (920) 424-0185

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